On July 26, 1954, a Mongol warrior rode bareback through the canyon lands of the Escalante Desert in southern Utah. Jamuga had just scouted out a caravan and was now trying to convince his friend Temujin to not go through with his plans for attack. But his friend would hear no such counsel.
"There are moments fer wisdom, Juh-mooga, then I listen to you… and there are moments fer action, then I listen to my blood. I feel this Tartar wuh-man is fer me, and my blood says, 'TAKE HER!'"
But before Genghis Kahn could finish his scene, a hot wind began to blow and a massive dust storm rose up, choking out everyone on the set. Director Dick Powell called a halt to filming and the actors scrambled for cover behind the tarps set up specifically for this regular occurrence. After a short lunch of slightly metallic-tasting locally-grown produce and beef, they were ready to shoot again one of the most important scenes in the Howard Hughes-funded epic, “The Conqueror.” When filming was finished the next month, Hughes spared no expense in shipping 60 tons of sand back to Hollywood to ensure that scenes which needed to be re-shot were authentic to the original.
Of the 220 cast and crew who worked on the colossal flop (not counting the hundreds of additional unnamed extras and contractors), 91 of them were destined to contract cancer, including John Wayne, Pedro Armendariz, Agnes Moorehead, and Susan Hayward. Under normal circumstances, 30 would have been the statistical probability.
Years later, a spokesman from the Defense Nuclear Agency, which was responsible for the dozen nuclear tests done in the area the year before, was asked about the toxic conditions at that site: